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Us Brewmaster Knighted By Belgian Brewers Guild

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Brewmaster Randy Thiel becomes first American brewmaster knighted by Belgian brewer's guild

September 28, 2004 - COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. - Just call him Sir Brewmaster. Randy Thiel, brewmaster of Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown, N.Y. was recently awarded one of the highest honors of the brewmaster's trade.

On Sept. 3 in the Gothic Room of the Town Hall of Brussels, Belgium, The Knighthood of the Brewers' Mashstaff (Chevalerie du Fourquet des Brasseurs), a centuries old organization representing the dignity and traditions of the brewer's trade, inducted Thiel as a Knight of the Brewer's Guild.

Thiel is the first American brewmaster knighted by the Guild. He was recognized for his ongoing contributions to the art of Belgian brewing as practiced at Brewery Ommegang and in the U.S. Thiel has been brewmaster at Brewery Ommegang since its inception in 1997, and has been responsible for the development and ongoing production of the five highly-regarded Belgian-style ales the brewery currently produces.

The ceremony in Brussels was presided over by Grand Master Jack Van Antwerpen and attended by the Knighthood of Brewers, and Laurent Demuynck, president of Duvel Moortgat USA and Brewery Ommegang. Other Americans inducted were Tom Peters, co-owner of Monk's Cafi in Philadelphia, Eddie Friedland, owner of Edward I. Friedland distributorship in North Philadelphia; and Joe Lipa of Merchant du Vin Importers, Washington, D.C. All are credited with helping create a Belgian beer renaissance on this side of the Atlantic.

According to Thiel, "Inclusion into the Guild is an inspirational and humbling occasion all at once.

"The members of the Belgian brewing community take great pride in their unique heritage and current achievements in the international arena," he added. "To be in the presence of people I respect so much, sets a higher standard to shoot for. It truly is an honor."

Demuynck remarked that, "the honor is highly-regarded, rightly-bestowed, and was accepted in an elegant ceremony that could only be held in the heart of the world of fine beers: Brussels, Belgium."

Born and raised in beer-proud Wisconsin, in the heavily German-influenced burg of New Holstein, Thiel garnered an impressive resume along his journey to Knighthood. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin at Madison with a BS in Microbiology and worked in scientific endeavors for six years before his homebrewing hobby led him to a career in brewing. After attending the Siebel Institute and UC-Davis (the two foremost brewing schools in North America), Thiel traveled to the bucolic hills of upstate New York to help with a new start-up brewery called Brewery Ommegang. There, he worked with a Belgian brewmaster for six months before taking over the reins.

The Belgian-style ales created by Thiel and his team have been acclaimed by beer experts the world over. Under his direction, Brewery Ommegang now brews five fine Belgian-style ales: Ommegang Witte Ale, a light, refreshing wheat ale spiced with coriander and sweet orange peel; Hennepin Saison Ale, a golden farmhouse ale with flavors of orange peel, hops, and ginger; Rare Vos Amber Ale, a cafi-style amber ale with subtle caramel and citrus flavors; Ommegang Abbey Ale, a dark, aromatic dubbel ale with complex flavors of dried fruits and spices; and Three Philosophers Quadrupel, a dark ale blended with cherry-lambic, creating flavors of dark cherries, caramel, toffee and chocolate.

About Brewery Ommegang
Nestled in the rolling hills of Cooperstown, N.Y., Brewery Ommegang is the first brewery in North America dedicated to producing all bottle-conditioned Belgian-style ales. Cooperstown, thought of more often as the home to America's favorite pastime, was once the center of a bustling hop economy. Brewery Ommegang, built in 1997 on the foundation of one of Otsego County's largest hop farms, now produces five beers to both popular and critical acclaim: Ommegang Abbey Ale, Hennepin Saison Farmhouse Ale, Rare Vos Amber Ale, Three Philosophers Quadrupel Ale and new Ommegang Witte Ale. Brewery Ommegang is owned by Duvel Moortgat, brewers of world famous Duvel (www.duvelusa.com), brewed by the Moortgat Family brewery in Puurs, Belgium, founded in 1871. Brewery Ommegang, located at 656 County Highway 33 in Cooperstown, is open for tours daily (except Thanksgiving and Christmas). For more information, call 1.800.544.1809 or visit --- www.ommegang.com
 

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